Friday, December 28, 2007

Trailing Bhutto's assassination

To help journalists understand yesterday's killing of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Poynter Online columnists Amy Gahran and Al Tompkins looked for available online resources.

Follow Bhutto Assassination News via Blogs, Twitter
December 27, 2007
By Amy Gahran

As I was making tea this morning, I heard on NPR that Pakistani opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had just been assassinated at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Immediately I jumped on my laptop. Of course, Google News already offers a slew of mainstream news coverage of the assassination -- based almost entirely on reporting done outside Pakistan, since tight restrictions on journalists remain in force in Pakistan even though President Pervez Musharraf lifted six weeks of emergency rule on Dec. 15. (More on that country's press restrictions from the International Federation of Journalists and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.)

Given the current dearth of available professional journalism from within Pakistan, the country's lively blogosphere -- much of it in English -- has become a key source of original and diverse news, analysis, commentary, and context from around that troubled nation. Today especially would be a good time for journalists around the world to start paying close attention to Pakistani blogs.

Read more here.

Pakistan Resources

December 28, 2007
By Al Tompkins

Pakistani bloggers have been actively posting updates on the country's escalating tensions after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

You can check out the official Bhutto Web site, but the site was down a lot on Thursday. Here is Google's cached version.

Read more here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Why kill them when they are just doing their job?"

That's what Jan Marc Lintuan, eldest of four sons of the slain radio broadcaster, Fernando "Batman" Lintuan, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility has just issued a press freedom alert on Lintuan's killing and reactions to what happened, including Jan Marc's statements.

CMFR Philippines Alert:
Radio broadcaster killed
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

CMFR/Philippines—A radio broadcaster who was a vocal critic of local government corruption was killed by motorcycle-riding men on 24 December 2007 around 10 am (local time) in Davao, a province south of Manila, and an hour and 40 minutes by plane from the capital.

Fernando "Batman" Lintuan, who had just come from his morning program "Ligas Paka" (If You're Wicked, You're Dead) on local dxGO radio, was gunned down just after leaving the station onboard his car.

The gunmen opened fire at Lintuan at close range at a street intersection. Lintuan, who had been a radio broadcaster since the '80s, was also the first president of the Davao Sportswriters Association and was an official of the Philippine Sports Commission at the time of his killing. He was 52.

Lintuan was the second journalist to be killed in the line of duty this year after Carmelo "Mark" Palacios, who was killed on 18 April 2007. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility database has listed 70 journalists/media practitioners killed in the line of duty since 1986.

Read more here.

According to PinoyPress, police authorities in Davao say that the much-feared vigilante group, the Davao Death Squad, might be behind Lintuan's killing. Click here for the PinoyPress entry as well as its links about the controversial group.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Now, for the real "bad" news

So I still have my old cellphone number, although I'm a few thousands poorer (So poor I can't even buy watusi and lusis for New Year's Eve) and with more than 98 percent of professional and personal contacts lost. Yes, Cedelf, until now, I am still on a state of denial over the loss of my phone. Sigh.

At least I got my old number back. So please, please, if you know me or I know you or we have worked together for a certain thing or I have interviewed you for a story (etcetera etcetera), kindly send me your number so that I can save it.

But here's more distressing news:

Broadcast journalist shot dead in Davao City: Arroyo orders probe, arrest of perpetrators
Nov. 24

Unknown gunmen shot and killed a radio broadcaster in the southern Philippines on Monday, officials said, as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered police to immediately investigate the incident and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Ferdie Lintuan had just finished hosting a morning program on dxGO Radio in the city of Davao when he was ambushed in his car along with two other journalists, said Jesus Dureza, a senior adviser to the President.

Read more here. For more information about the Lintuan killing, click here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

Two days before Lintuan was murdered, veteran journalist Adrian Cristobal passed away. Click here for more information.

Tsk tsk. The high number of journalists dying (but more often, getting killed for their work) made me remember one incident not so long ago when a friend asked me to be his co-guarantor for a credit loan he was applying for. So there we were in the credit office, showing my documents. "You're from the press?" the credit officer asked me, upon seeing my ID. Sensing her somewhat extreme surprise over my job, I softly told the credit officer: "Yes. Why? Is that a problem?"

"I'll just need to check with my manager," the credit officer told us, walking away with my office to an office a few feet away. My job might have screwed up your application, I told my friend, although we did not exactly know if there was a problem with me being a journalist.

A few minutes later, the officer came back. "But you don't work in the community press? You don't cover conflicts or any hostile situations?" she immediately asked me. I initially thought of telling her the complex nature of the media beat and how the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility works, but I decided otherwise. "If you mean I cover events and issues in the communities or those of conflicts, generally, no." I said.

After I said that, I sensed she was somewhat relieved and appeared more relaxed reviewing my friend's credit application. Now I'm the one curious. Why would a credit officer be so surprised upon learning my work as a journalist?, I thought. Do journalists also get a hard time applying for credit loans or when buying things on an installment basis, just like police and military men (or at least from what some cops and soldiers told me)?

So, after five minutes in front of the credit officer, silently agonizing all these questions, I asked her: "Is there a problem if I am a journalist?"

She sheepishly smiled with my question. While signing the approval of my friend's application, she said: "Aren't journalist killings here in this country remain rampant and unresolved?"


Why do I have to lose my cellphone after I ran out of Christmas bonus?

So yeah, I don't have a phone right now. Lost it last night. Long story. I don't want to explain anymore. Right now, I am too angry at myself for losing that phone -- where close to 500 of my personal and professional contacts' numbers are stored. And now, all these numbers -- gone. (And yes, I did not save the numbers on another platform when I could have done it to save me the agony if in case my phone gets lost or whatever. Stupid stupid me.)

I tried calling my number, but all I hear is that operator speaking that it cannot be reached (yeah, as if I did not know). Called my mobile provider to block my sim card and phone.

For those who know me, you know how to get in touch with me.

Update: So, I'm still going to have my old cell number, thanks to my mobile service provider. So please send your number to my old number so that I can save it. Thank you very much.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Filipino singer Charice Pempengco on The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Okay, just a quick post before I go back to my usual work load.

Here's Filipino singing sensation Charice Pempengco appearing on the Dec. 19 episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show:

She sang a second one in the same episode:

Both clips from luckycura85.

In case you're living under a rock and you don't know the buzz about her, here's the Wikipedia entry on Charice. Below is the clip that first made her internationally famous.

Clip from coolsmurf.

Sorry if I have not been posting issues and articles here lately. I am swamped with work these past few weeks as the year comes to a close, so please bear with me. As you may have noticed in my last two posts, I guess I have been relying on Youtube to maintain sanity.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The amazing Paul Potts

I should have posted the videos of this wonderful singer a few months ago, but I have completely forgotten about it--until now, while I was showing a dramatic music video in Youtube to my sister (more on this in the future).

Here's Paul Potts, winner of Britain's Got Talent.

A clip of his audition, which I can't get over myself with:

He sang a full version of Nessun Dorma (his audition song) in the finals. Sure, he's no Pavarotti, but his story and his singing ability have endeared him to millions of fans not just in his hometown United Kingdom but all over the world.

Both clips from myredroom.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Photos for Peace

Just a quick post on this before I forget this again amid the usual tons of work before the year ends.

I wrote earlier that I would post details about the recent Peace Journalism Seminar of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR). But since I am very occupied with a lot of other things, I'll just post for now some photos taken during the Antipolo seminar. For more photos of the event, please go to Bimbo has a bunch of photos in his Multiply site.

With CMFR top guns Melinda Quintos de Jesus and Luis V. Teodoro

The participants and CMFR staff

Miriam Coronel Ferrer
, Rep. Satur Ocampo, and CMFR staffwriters Junette and Melai

The ever-posing CMFR staff

Does the photo below remind you of Familia Zaragoza, albeit a loony one?

And back to the crazy CMFR office

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pwning Pagdilao

After feeling like a headless chicken last night, I think I can breathe for the moment (at least just for the night) and blog.

I was watching a replay of Media in Focus last Thursday. The issue, of course, was the arrest of journalists and media practitioners who were covering the Nov. 29 incident involving Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim. The guests were: Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas Rey Hulog, police spokesman Chief Superintendent Samuel Pagdilao, constitutional professor Edwin Lacierda, and veteran journalists Rachel Khan, Gil Santos, and Dana Batnag.

And boy, was Pagdilao pwned! (especially by Atty. Lacierda.) My unsolicited advice to Chief Superintendent Pagdilao: Sir, the next time you defend the arrest of journalists and media practitioners last Nov. 29, make sure you actually cite and explain the constitutional and legal provisions justifying the arrest, especially when you're with a lawyer with the likes of Atty. Lacierda. Don't just say that the the arrest was done in accordance with the law.

Atty. Lacierda said the arrest of journalists/media practitioners was warrantless and illegal. Journalists and media practitioners who were covering what happened, Lacierda said, did not commit any of the nine instances involving obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree No. 1829.

I looked up PD 1829, and below are the nine instances:

(a) preventing witnesses from testifying in any criminal proceeding or from reporting the commission of any offense or the identity of any offender/s by means of bribery, misrepresentation, deceit, intimidation, force or threats;

(b) altering, destroying, suppressing or concealing any paper, record, document, or object, with intent to impair its verity, authenticity, legibility, availability, or admissibility as evidence in any investigation of or official proceedings in, criminal cases, or to be used in the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases;

(c) harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape of, any person he knows, or has reasonable ground to believe or suspect, has committed any offense under existing penal laws in order to prevent his arrest prosecution and conviction;

(d) publicly using a fictitious name for the purpose of concealing a crime, evading prosecution or the execution of a judgment, or concealing his true name and other personal circumstances for the same purpose or purposes;

(e) delaying the prosecution of criminal cases by obstructing the service of process or court orders or disturbing proceedings in the fiscal's offices, in Tanodbayan, or in the courts;

(f) making, presenting or using any record, document, paper or object with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to affect the course or outcome of the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases;

(g) soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept any benefit in consideration of abstaining from, discounting, or impeding the prosecution of a criminal offender;

(h) threatening directly or indirectly another with the infliction of any wrong upon his person, honor or property or that of any immediate member or members of his family in order to prevent such person from appearing in the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases, or imposing a condition, whether lawful or unlawful, in order to prevent a person from appearing in the investigation of or in official proceedings in, criminal cases;

(i) giving of false or fabricated information to mislead or prevent the law enforcement agencies from apprehending the offender or from protecting the life or property of the victim; or fabricating information from the data gathered in confidence by investigating authorities for purposes of background information and not for publication and publishing or disseminating the same to mislead the investigator or to the court.

A lawyer-blogger, Punzi wrote: "This crime does not involve preventing Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan and other justices from arriving at their respective destinations, as the offense suggests." He cited Section 1 of PD 1829 which states: "The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period, or a fine ranging from 1,000 to 6,000 pesos, or both, shall be imposed upon any person who knowingly or willfully obstructs, impedes, frustrates or delays the apprehension of suspects and the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases." In short, a person who commits any of the nine instances above is guilty of obstruction of justice.

Punzi also cited examples for the nine instances each:

1. Telling a witness that the hearing where he will be called will be held on 17 July 2005. The witness did not know that this falls on a Sunday and that the hearing will actually be held on 18 July 2005.

2. To CSI fans, corrupting or destroying cricial evidence.

3. Hiding or providing a safe house for known fellons.

4. Publicly changing one's name from "Malu Hwang" to "Nalu Hwang" to evade a sentence imposed upon Malu.

5. Using bomb threats to delay proceeding in court, prosecutors and the Office of the Ombudsman.

6. Surreptitiously inserting or substituting original specimens of signatures in any investigation or judicial proceeding so that it would match the signature of an impostor (sounds familiar, Mr. Nipa Hut?)

7. A police office taking a bribe for not appearing as a prosecution witness in a case he handled and brought to court.

8. Making death threats on a person to prevent him from appearing as a witness to a case.

9. An informant misleading investigating police officers by giving false leads or tips.

What did the journalists and media practitioners do that resulted in obstruction of justice, tell me?

What was also irritating during the Media in Focus episode was when Pagdilao said that journalists also committed violations of the Journalists' Code of Ethics (original and expanded version). What was was he talking about? Of course, he didn't cite any.

More importantly: Who is he to tell the press about journalism ethics? What, after the Nov. 29 incident, Pagdilao has suddenly become an ethics guru?

For his own sake, Pagdilao should refrain from talking about ethical violations allegedly committed by the press last Nov. 29. What he should do instead, apart from reading the Constitution, is to conduct an internal probe to check if the arresting officers last Nov. 29 followed the standard operating procedures and review how they handle similar incidents in the future. He said in Media in Focus that the police is doing an internal review. That's fine. But please, don't check if the press committed any ethical violation, as it is not your area of expertise. Instead, check if the police did not commit any violation, legal or otherwise.

I find it strange every time a government, police, or a military official, especially those without any inkling about the dynamics and ethics of the journalism profession, points out the ethical and professional malpractices of the press. Any journalist in his/her right sense of mind would allow him/herself to be lectured upon, especially by the government, on what they should do. Certainly not me.

Friday, December 07, 2007

To the people’s teacher, poet, friend and comrade

And to my former PI 100 professor, I salute you. May your fight continue to inspire us amid these dark times.

Farewell, Monico Atienza
Source: Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom
December 6, 2007

The Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom conveys its deepest condolence and sorrow to the family, colleagues and comrades of Prof. Monico Atienza. Ka Nic as he is fondly called passed away yesterday, December 5.

Ka Nic will be remembered for his intensity and determination to carry out the people’s interest even during the darkest hours of martial law. He suffered severe and grave physical and mental torture at the hands of the enemies upon his arrest in 1974. The brutal enemy tried to break him to betray the revolution and his comrades. But he stood firm and militant putting the safety and interest of the revolutionary movement and the comrades foremost in his mind.

Read here for more.

Arkibong Bayan has a two-part special tribute to Sir Nick. Sir Nick's photo above from Arkibong Bayan as well. reports his and fellow Prof. Rene Villanueva's deaths. Bulatlat's special report on Sir Nick here.

Sir Nick's wake lies at the UCCP (United Council of Churches of the Philippines) chapel along EDSA. Tomorrow at 8 am, his remains will be cremated. Photo of news clipping at left from Adarna's Attic.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

An assault not only on press freedom, but also on democracy itself

The arrests of journalists and other media practitioners who were covering the Makati incident is not only unprecedented but an outrage. Worse, it is a telling indication of the authoritarian tendencies of this administration, which has fallen in its obsession with political dominance.

That is what the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility said in a statement it issued just now in the light of arrests made on journalists covering the Peninsula Hotel takeover. CMFR also calls on all media, free expression and journalists’ groups in this country as well as abroad to "denounce this atrocity as a willful act to inflict collateral damage on the Philippine press for doing its mandated responsibility of providing the sovereign public the information it needs."

Read here for the statement.

It's not Christmas that is just around the corner; it's Martial Law

Any moment now, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) is issuing a statement on the arrests made on journalists covering the Makati incident.

From Freedom Watch

Journalists and media organizations condemn the arrest of journalists

Maria Ressa, head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, condemned the arrests of not only members of the ABS-CBN 2 technical team but also other journalists and media practitioners covering the Makati incident.

"We in ABS CBN News strongly condemn the illegal arrests of our ABS CBN reporters and our colleagues in the media and decry the atrocious treatment we are being subjected to in the hands of the police. Our reporters were in the Manila Peninsula purely to fulfill their duties as journalists," she said.

Read here for more.

Stop harassing the press! Palace issues curfew

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines issues this statement minutes before Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno said on-air that Malacañang is issuing a curfew from 12 mn to 5 am tomorrow. The curfew might be extended tomorrow if the Palace has not "achieved its objectives," Puno added.

Media not the enemy - NUJP
November 29, 2007
Source: GMANews.TV

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on Thursday called on the National Police to stop treating journalists who covered the Makati standoff as enemies of the state.

"We protest in strongest terms the PNP's move to forcibly bring some journalists to the National Capital Region Police Office in Bicutan and condemn the confiscation of video footage of the day-long stand-off at the Manila Peninsula Hotel," the NUJP said in a statement.

Read more here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Maltreated refugees, forgotten soldiers

Take a look at the sad plight of these Bhutanese refugees.

The video can be seen here.

Here's what the London-based news agency Journeyman Pictures wrote about the video:

"Why did India open fire on thousands of Bhutanese refugees, trying to cross peacefully into India on their way home? This investigation includes rare footage of the shooting.
Shouting "Bhutan is our homeland", thousands of refugees attempt to stream across the Nepal-India border to go home to Bhutan. But the area is soon flooded with Indian security guards and shots ring out. Two people are killed and hundreds wounded."

These Hindu refugees are descendants from the Nepalese who settled in Bhutan centuries ago. But most of the population of Bhutan are Buddhist. In 1990, the King suddenly withdrew the Hindus' citizenship and forced them out. India allowed them safe passage to reach Nepal but now refuses to let them return to Bhutan. As one man laments: 'We are living a life that is worse than that of animals'."

Journeyman Pictures has other eye-opening video features as well. One good feature it did was about how thousands of American soldiers returning from Iraq have severe mental problems. "They feel abandoned by the Bush administration and claim officials are trying to hide the true scale of the problem," according to the report.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A peace-full return to Manila

Just came back from the Peace Journalism Seminar of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).

It was my first time to attend an actual seminar on peace journalism, although I had already finished a six-month online course on Peace and Conflict Reporting at the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University. I am sure a lot of the participants, including the CMFR staff, learned so much from the seminar. The seminar made me think on how I look at reports on conflict and peace, and how I--whether subconsciously or not--still have ill-conceived notions and stereotypes against certain individuals and groups.

I'll tell you more details (and photos) later. Lots of news to read and things to do.

Meanwhile here's Janette Toral on a recent iBlog "mini" summit on blogging and the upcoming 2010 elections. The CMFR's findings on the media coverage of this year's senatorial and party-list elections were discussed in the forum.

Bloggers as Election Watchdog
Philippines Election Journal
November 25, 2007

When the idea of having a blogging and the 2010 elections forum first came to mind, Luz Rimban is one of those I consulted about it. Last Saturday, that finally happened with Luz, Atty. JJ Disini, and Rachel Khan in the panel.

Luz shared her perspective on bloggers acting as election watchdogs. She started by citing the various gaps noticed by CMFR in the 2004 and 2007 elections that includes:

* There were gaps in reportage in 2004 primarily on party-list elections, local elections, senatorial elections, and policy development issues.

* In 2007, coverage was not as extensive partly due public disinterest and skepticism over electoral institutions. Coverage were more focused on Team Unity versus Genuine Opposition.

* There were key issues that failed to turn out as election issues such as
  • Hello Garci scandal
  • Extra-judicial killings
  • Corruption
* Linking of local issues and elections with national issues and contests did not happen either.

Read more here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On reporting about peace and calling for a classless society

I'm taking a hiatus from blogging -- and reading emails, reading RSS feeds, Googling, blog hopping -- for a week at least. Lucky me. I am attending the Peace Journalism Seminar of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility both as senior staffmember and participant.

CMFR holds Peace Journalism Seminar
Source: CMFR

The coverage and treatment of violent conflict and war, and peace negotiations have raised questions about the impact of media on these and other national crises. The news agenda should be an independent process, seeking out the facts without external influence. And yet, journalists will be the first to admit that reporting can be colored or biased, as well as sensationalized. Worse, media can submit to contending sides and conduct a war of words, the force of which can harden the will against agreements that lay the ground for permanent peace.

This November, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has invited more than 20 Manila- and community-based journalists to its Peace Journalism Seminar. The program will provide a shared framework of understanding the issues, with background briefings on the government-initiated peace process, perspectives on insurgency, and the role of the media in these developments, including practical pointers for the media.

Read here for more or visit the CMFR website.

Actually, I have already taken up a short online certificate course on Peace Journalism from the Asian (Konrad Adenauer) Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University last year. But I really look forward to attending CMFR's Peace Journalism Seminar, because CMFR has always cited peace as a critical area of press coverage. Media and Peace, in fact, has been a major concern for CMFR even before it published Media and Peace Reporting in 2000 (For those covering conflict-related issues and peace negotiations between the government and rebel groups, I really suggest reading this comprehensive book). And even before the Philippine Journalism Review and later the PJR Reports have conducted content analyses and monitors on press coverage of Mindanao.

CMFR's Peace Journalism Seminar will tackle and discuss questions such as "Does practicing peace journalism make me more of an advocate than a journalist?" and "How should I report on conflict and peace issues?" plus more.

So here I am in the office spending an overnight trying to finish my stories and other items for the December issue of the PJR Reports. Sigh.

Not that bad though. Blog entries, like the one from Desi below, keep me amused and sane even though I practically live now in the office. Desi is a former election volunteer of CMFR.

My Treatise for a Classless Society

Students! Throw away your books! You can include your sputtering pens and unused notebooks! Just bring yourself and perhaps one of life's basic necessities: instant noodles. Or whatever. Heed my call! Together, we shall march our tattered Chuck Taylors and slippers to wherever our uncorrupted intellect may take us. For we are about to embark on this lifelong struggle for a society that our jovial, freedom-loving, and individualistic societal designation - the student body - has so badly longed for: a classless society.

Tama mga iskulmeyts, isang lipunang walang klase!

And in light of these pronouncements, let me present my treatises why we should skip classes altogether and frolic someplace else with the consenting members of the opposite sex. While the majority of it maybe personal, I do believe that many of you feel that same weight on my back that our older kindred has so unjustly derided as laziness. Injustice, my test cheatmates, injustice!

Read here for more.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

On Iraq reporting, libel and habeas data

Did media fail in reporting about the war in Iraq?

Prominent film directors Brian De Palma and Paul Higgis think so, according to a Reuters report.

Directors say war films make up for poor reporting
Source: Reuters
Nov. 15, 2007

Two Hollywood directors who are part of a wave of films about the war in Iraq and the broader fallout from the September 11, 2001 attacks have said they were only doing what media failed to do -- telling the truth.

Brian De Palma's "Redacted", arguably the most shocking feature yet about events in Iraq, hits theatres on Friday, using a documentary style to tell the true story of the gang rape and murder of an Iraqi girl by U.S. troops in 2006.

Paul Haggis also based "In The Valley Of Elah", already released, on true events linked to the war, although, unlike De Palma's cast of unknown actors, he employed major stars Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon.

Both film makers have attacked mainstream media for their coverage of the Iraq war and events leading to it.

Read here for more.

Do you agree with their observations?

On the local front, Freedom Watch writes about Cong. Prospero Nograles's bill removing the penalty of imprisonment for libel but increasing the fines for the offense. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility's press alerts officer Jose Bimbo F. Santos also has a take on the issue.

In their latest posts, both Bimbo and Malaya reporter Anthony Ian Cruz also reported a speech Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno made on the writ of habeas data. (Bimbo's entry here, Cruz's here)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Arroyo, the frequent traveler and generous donor

So, how did Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo exactly spend public funds last year? GMANews.TV gives us a clue.

President spent millions on travels, ‘donations’ and consultants in ‘06
Source: GMANews.TV
Karen Tiongson-Mayrina
November 15, 2007

The Office of the President spent generously last year on salaries, bonuses and benefits of its employees and consultants, but even more generously, on multiple travels at home and overseas and on unspecified “donations" and “consultancy services."

A Commission on Audit report showed that in 2006, the Office of the President spent P40 million a month on average for traveling expenses, mostly of the President, and another P35 million a month on average for “donations." Already, the combined amount of traveling expenses and “donations" used up over a third or 39 percent of Malacanang’s total expenses in 2006.

On top of this, the presidency spent an average of P44 million a month to pay the salaries and benefits of its employees.

Curiously indeed, what may be classified as “incidental expenses" and lump-sum allocations ranked among the expense items for which the Palace spent big amounts of taxpayers’ money. These included, apart from travel, “donations," “consultancy services," confidential expenses, and the creation of new offices.

Read more here.

The press should ensure that this issue gets sustained coverage, that it does not completely fall off from newspaper pages and airtime--even though other dizzying number of controversies at present (Batasan blast, alleged Palace cash gifts, Mariannet Amper, etc.) consume most of the press space and airtime.

Arroyo should be held accountable for these expenses (and for a lot other issues, as her critics would say). She should explain to all, especially to the Mariannets out there, how these funds were spent.

Guidebook on how to monitor media coverage of elections out

Technically speaking, I am now officially finished with our media coverage project of the 2007 senate and party-list elections, with its final component already completed.

From Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR):

Guidebook for media monitoring out

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), which has been monitoring election coverage since 1992, recently published a manual on monitoring media coverage of elections in the Philippine setting.

The manual, Monitoring Media Coverage of Elections: A Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) Guidebook, is the final component of CMFR’s media monitor of news media coverage of the 2007 elections. Last August, CMFR released its findings on the media coverage of this year’s elections, The CMFR Monitor: News Media Coverage of the 2007 National Elections.

The publication contains principles, guidelines, and methods for understanding the news media and the importance of media monitoring.

CMFR Deputy Director Luis V. Teodoro, Prof. Danilo A. Arao of the University of the Philippines Mass Communication, and PJR Reports Assistant Editor Hector Bryant L. Macale prepared the manual.

For more information about the project, click here. Thanks to Prof. Arao for posting about the book. He even made a writing contest on who can give the best answer to a hypothetical ethical situation concerning a journalist. The winner gets a copy of the election manual. If only I could join the contest. Haha.

And thanks to Malaya reporter Anthony Ian Cruz for writing an entry on it. "(G) iven the track record of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility in producing well-written and amply-researched books... (the election manual) will be a worthy addition to its growing list of bestsellers among journalists and media watchers," he wrote. Thank you for the kind words, Tonyo.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blast rocks Batasan complex

Sorry for the inactivity in this blog; I am currently swamped with all the work we do in the office. I hope to get back again sometime soon, but let me just break the current lull with these:

Blast rocks Batasan complex; 1 dead, 2 solons among hurt
Source: GMANews.TV
November 13, 2007

(Updated 9:10 p.m.) A loud explosion occurred at the south wing lobby of the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City, radio dzBB reported about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday. The report said at least one died and six others were hurt in the incident, including at least two House lawmakers.

DzBB quoting information from National Capital Region Police Office chief Geary Barrias said one Marcial Calvo, reportedly the driver of Rep. Wahab Akbar died in the blast. The report also said Rep. Negros Oriental Rep. Pryde Henry Teves and Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Liwanag were hurt in the incident, along with four others.

Teves and his two other staff were brought to the New Era General Hospital. The report said the three sustained injuries to their faces, hands and feet.

Read more here.

Gabriela solon’s driver killed as blast rocks House: At least 2 solons hurt
November 13, 2007: Last update (09:12pm)

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 3) An explosion rocked the House of Representatives just minutes after session ended Tuesday evening, killing the driver of Gabriela Representative Luz Ilagan and wounding the solon, Negros Oriental Representative Henry Tevez, and several other persons, National Capital Region Police Director Gearry Barias said.

Barias identified the fatality as Marcial Talbo, whose body was retrieved from inside Ilagan’s car and was identified through his identification card. He said at least four other people were wounded.

Read more here.

I am currently watching ANC for latest developments on the blast. Kudos to anchors Pia Hontiveros and David Celdran for being restrained as they wait for the latest news, repeatedly telling people to remain calm amid confusion and disinformation on what had just happened. Both were not speculating the reasons behind the blast, and were merely telling the public to rely only on reliable sources for more information. Information from text messages should not be immediately believed in, the two said.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Clinton gets the most positive coverage

Hillary Clinton leads the most coverage of all the U.S. presidential candidates, as well as the highest number of positive statements. And climate change finally makes it on media agenda.

These are among the findings made by Media Tenor, a U.S.-based media research institute. Got this from

The findings on the media coverage of presidential candidates in the United States remind me of the recent media monitoring coverage of the 2007 senatorial and party-list elections in the Philippines conducted by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR). For findings about this project, click here. The page also carries CMFR's findings on the media coverage of the local 2004 presidential elections.

Clinton Generates the Most Good News
By Media Tenor

The most recent data show that Hillary Clinton received the most coverage of all the candidates, as well as the highest number of positive statements. Campaign and fundraising issues composed the majority of each candidate`s media coverage. But Clinton’s personal life and leadership qualities factored in heavily to news reports about her.

John McCain was among the top three most-covered candidates, but his overall rating was negative. Most reporting on him related to his controversial Iraq war policies and trouble fundraising. John Edwards had the highest share of positive coverage of the seven top-tier candidates, with more attention focused on his economic policies.

Read here for more.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Don't count newspapers out yet

A breather from the chaotic political situation we have.

Newspaper industry statistics in the United States may look grim, but it seems a bit premature to put a $60-billion industry on the endangered species list, says Fortune's Richard Siklos.

Newspapers down but definitely not out

Print ads are shrinking and layoffs are legion, but there remains much to cheer in the troubled newspaper business, argues Fortune's Richard Siklos.

By Richard Siklos, Fortune editor-at-large

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Last week could hardly have been grimmer for the newspaper industry. First off, Gannett (Charts, Fortune 500) and McClatchy (Charts) - the two biggest newspapers publishers in the U.S., respectively - reported diminished revenues and profits. Meanwhile, following the lead of Belo, publisher of the Dallas Morning News, Scripps announced it was splitting its growing television and interactive businesses off from the company's newspaper business so that investors could get excited about the company's slumping stock price.

The kicker of the week was when stock in the New York Times Company (Charts) hit its lowest point in a decade after a Morgan Stanley fund manager who had been agitating for changes at the company sold off the firm's entire 7.2% stake. Also last week, the equity research arm of Morgan Stanley laid off its newspaper analyst and dropped coverage of the industry, the Times itself noted wryly in its pages. This was almost certainly a coincidence. Otherwise, it might be construed as one heck of a kiss off. The present question in newspaperland is not whether the industry can reclaim its glory, but rather how quickly the erosion in business conditions that has accelerated in the past year or so can be slowed and even reversed.

Read more here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

GMA grants pardon to Estrada

And he walks away a free man.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has just granted pardon to convicted plunderer and former Pres. Joseph Estrada.

Estrada gets executive clemency over prosecutor's protest
Source: GMANews.TV

Malacañang on Thursday granted executive clemency to former President Joseph Estrada.

In a press conference, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Thursday afternoon the executive clemency for Estrada.

Bunye said it is the administration's policy to release inmates who have reached the age of 70, and that Estrada has already served more than six years in detention while being tried for plunder.

The President's spokesman also noted that Estrada committed not to seek public office, in his application for pardon.

Read here for more. Militants say the pardon is meant to blunt the negative impact of the ZTE controversy, according to this report.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Panties for Peace

As the blame game behind the Makati bombing (whodunit?) continues, the refreshingly interesting "Panties for Peace" campaign against Burma's military junta gains momentum. Panties as a form of protest? And there's another: Putting the junta leader's picture in the necks of stray dogs.

Got this email from a dear Malaysian colleague.

"Panties for Peace" campaign wins wide support
by Violet Cho

You can check the story online here, here, and here.

The "Panties for Peace" campaign aimed at Burma's military regime is gaining momentum, with the establishment of a committee to drum up support in Thailand.

The campaign began on October 16, with women throughout the world sending packages to Burmese embassies containing panties. Burma's superstitious generals, particularly junta chief Than Shwe, believe that contact with any item of women's wear deprives them of their power.

"Panties for Peace" campaigns have sprung up in Australia, Europe, Singapore—and now Thailand, where a Lanna Action for Burma committee has been formed in Chiang Mai to support the feminine protest.

Ying Tzarm, a co-founder of Lanna Action for Burma, told The Irrawaddy that the campaign was aimed at undermining the superstitious beliefs of the military regime.

Click here for more. Photo above from this site.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mashup? Crowdsourcing?

Is the concept of a "mashup" turning your brain to mush? Does the idea of "crowdsourcing" leave you feeling ... lonely?

A new feature of Poynter Online, WebSpeak, will help you get comfortable with the rapidly evolving lingo of online journalism.

Click here to read WebSpeak's first term. Here are some links where I discussed terms like "crowdsourcing" and "pro-am journalism" (here, here, and here).

It felt like the whole Landmark had just taken a roller coaster ride

Current casualties of the Glorietta blast: Nine people, over a hundred wounded. What a tragedy.

Melissa, a friend whom I was supposed to meet last night, was eating in Via Mare in Landmark when the blast occurred. Had she decided to eat in Glorietta after a physical exam in one of the clinics there, she later told me, she would have been included among the casualties. The impact, she said, was so strong that it was even felt in Landmark. An earthquake, people around her kept saying. No, she said to herself. It felt more like the whole mall had just taken a roller coaster ride, she told me.

If that was even felt in Landmark, I can't simply imagine the impact in Glorietta.

Poor Melissa. Thank God she's safe, although she was shocked by the bloodied faces that passed by her. When she went out, she saw that blood was all over the place.

We decided not to meet last night.

For more information and updates about the blast, go to's section on the incident here. You also might want to read the stories in GMANews.TV and ABS-CBN News. The indefatigable Manolo Quezon III of course had a roundup of the first-hand accounts, reactions, and updates. Malaya's newest reporter, Tonyo, calls for vigilance during these turbulent times. also recognizes the role of citizen journalists in complementing the Glorietta blast coverage of the mainstream media here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Accepting donations for this

Got the announcement. Now all I need are the plane and convention tickets. Sponsorships, anyone? And oh, can somebody take over my work while I'm gone?

Scranton Bets Big That The Office Fanatics Will Convene at Series' 'Branch'

Source: PR Newswire for Journalists
Oct. 10, 2007

SCRANTON, Pa., Oct. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NBC's Emmy-award-winning comedy series "The Office" sparks a fervent cult-like zeal in its fans that brings to mind the kind of fanaticism inspired by "Star Trek" or -- if you prefer the silver screen -- "Napoleon Dynamite." And as "trekkies" have so amply demonstrated, cults will rally around the objects of their devotion.

That's what Scranton, Pa. is betting on when it hosts the first-ever The Office Convention, the weekend of Oct. 26 through Oct. 28. (Tickets are now available via

"The time has come for 'The Office' fans to unite, and the best place to do it is in Michael Scott's home -- Scranton," said Tim Holmes, The Office Convention committee member. "Think of it like a 'Star Trek' convention, but with nerds wearing Dwight Schrute glasses instead of Spock ears."

"The Office" fans will have plenty to rally around. NBC has confirmed the following cast members will be in Scranton during the convention weekend: Angela Kinsey (Angela), Melora Hardin (Jan), Leslie David Baker (Stanley), Brian Baumgartner (Kevin), Creed Bratton (Creed), Kate Flannery (Meredith), Mindy Kaling (Kelly), Oscar Nunez (Oscar), Phyllis Smith (Phyllis), Andy Buckley (David Wallace from Corporate) and Bobby Ray Shafer (Bob Vance -- Vance Refrigeration). Pieces from the series' wardrobe will also be traveling to Scranton for display.

Click here for more.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sports and the press

Here's an interesting piece on the decline of sports news in US TV. Come to think of it, I rarely see sports news reports in local television nowadays. Well, except when there are major sports events like Manny Pacquaio's boxing matches (which by the way are largely exploited to the hilt by sponsoring TV networks).

Instead, do it better -- or someone else certainly will.
By Kevin Benz (more by author)
Source: Poynter Online

Shane Moreland, of WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Va., is a friend of mine and one heck of a news director. He's also not the first friend of mine to drop sports from its daily slot in a television newscast; another friend, Mike George, did the same thing about seven years ago at KVBC in Las Vegas.

Shane and Mike reflect the frustrations of many news directors and general managers whose market research indicates that sports segments of local television newscasts rank near the bottom of reasons to watch. Considering the money it costs to produce local sports coverage, some stations simply don't think the investment makes sense anymore.

I have a ton of respect for Shane and Mike, who are excellent journalists. I just wonder whether they would have come to a different decision had they approached the issue from another direction. Rather than dumping the sports department, we should change our sports philosophy.

Read more here.

The PJR Reports last July devoted a story on sports writing. Click here to read the piece written by Don Gil K. Carreon and Jose Bimbo F. Santos.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Murdered for doing journalism

It is not the soldier who gets killed for exposing corruption. It is not the soldier who gets slain for reporting on and criticizing other problems in the country, such as illegal gambling and the drug trade.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer published the latest report made by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) on the state of press freedom in the Philippines. CMFR's findings showed that majority of the journalists slain in the line of duty (nearly 90 percent) during the Arroyo administration were exposing corruption. Others were killed for reporting on and criticizing illegal gambling and the drug trade. Click here for the Inquirer story.

Thanks to Ma'am Rachel Khan for the link.

Injustice against the indigenous peoples

What is the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) doing to address this problem? The press can also help in solving this injustice against the indigenous peoples by providing reports explaining the law.

Most IPs don't understand law
Source: Sun.Star Davao
October 7, 2007

Ten years after the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), most indigenous peoples in Southern Mindanao still do not have full grasp of the law.

Much worse, they said, the law have become a means to rob them of their lands instead of the protecting their ancestral domain.

Read more here.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Shame on you, Mr. Senator

I don't know if this report is true but if it is, shame on Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. I wonder: Does he also get angry every time his face appears in the newspapers and television?

Enrile sends college student shaking in fear

The demeanor of Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile during a hearing at the Senate on Friday sent one student who went to watch the proceedings trembling in fear.

Mark Jemel Galez, 19, a broadcast journalism student of La Salle-Dasmariñas, Cavite, drew the ire of Enrile for taking photos of the senator using his handy video camera.

Enrile got peeved and asked the student: “Who are you? Why are you taking my picture? Come here.”

Galez went a bit closer to Enrile to explain but his voice was too soft to be heard by the crowd. Enrile later reportedly told him “to get out of this room.”

Read more here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Legal concerns in journalism

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism held a training workshop on investigative journalism last September.

The training had a session tackling legal concerns in investigative journalism. Session lecturer Jose Manuel Diokno (Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) chairperson tackled, among others:
  • Right to information on matters of public concern
  • Right to be free from prior restraint
  • Right to report on any legislative, judicial or other official proceedings and the statements made in those proceedings, or any other acts of public officers in the exercise of their functions
  • Right to report on matters of public concern and the conduct of public officials and public figures
  • Right to protect your sources
For more about the session, click here. Download Diokno's presentation here. The legal concerns discussed in the session definitely do not just concern investigative journalists but other members of the press as well.

What's wrong here?

What's wrong with this sentence?

Have you heard Coheed and Cambria's song entitled "Wake Up"?

Read here what's wrong. For more grammar and writing tips, click here. Thanks to my dear friend Venus for pointing me to this site.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What is China's role in the ZTE scam?

The ZTE controversy continues to be in the news, and rightfully so.

But how come there was hardly any local report looking at possible link between the alleged outrageous perks and bribery attempts of Philippine officials by ZTE (which is owned by the Chinese government) and China's problem with its huge foreign exchange reserves as well as the widespread culture of corruption in both the Philippine and Chinese governments?

An insightful piece on China's foreign exchange and corruption woes from the International Herald Tribune.

Monday, March 5, 2007

HONG KONG: In the insular world of China's central bank, they are known as the Three Xiaos — three women with similar names who oversee the greatest fortune ever assembled: China's more than $1 trillion in foreign- exchange reserves.

The Three Xiaos are exceptions in the male-dominated world of Chinese policy making. And after the sharp fall in Chinese stock markets shook financial markets around the world last week, the three women face enormous challenges, including a potential showdown over policy during the meeting this week of the National People's Congress, China's Parliament.

Public pressure is mounting within China on the central bank, the People's Bank of China. In postings on domestic Internet message boards and in conversations among educated urban Chinese, critics are suggesting that the central bank should earn higher profits from its vast hoard by investing in stocks, for instance, and use some of the reserves to help a country where most workers still earn less than a tenth of the wages of the typical American.

Foreign-exchange reserves have soared across much of the developing world, but particularly in China. One reason lies in extensive currency intervention as these countries try to keep their exports competitive in Western markets by curbing the appreciation of their currencies against the dollar.

Read more here.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The people's right to know

Mindanao journalists support the passing of the freedom of information bill. The bill is in accordance with the people's constitutional right to know.

Mindanao journalists push for freedom of information law

By Cheryll D. Fiel
Davao Today

Mindanao journalists are joining the call for the passing of a bill that will require government to release public documents fast and penalize violators of the public’s right to know.

Journalists, some of whom experienced being denied information related to the last elections, have committed to campaign among colleagues and lawmakers for the “Freedom of Information Act of 2007,” which, once passed into law, will require government to release public documents within specific number of working days upon receipt of a request and will eliminate the excessive cost of acquiring these data, which is imposed by government agencies.

Working journalists from all over Mindanao were gathered in Davao last month for the “Access of Information” forum, organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD).

The proposed bill, which was passed in the 12th Congress and has reached the Committee Report Level during the 13th Congress, also provides for clear administrative, criminal and civil liabilities for violators and possible courses of actions for citizens denied of information access.

Read here for more.

ATIN is a network of organizations advocating for the people’s Constitutional right to information. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility is an ATIN member.

It is high time that the freedom of information bill be passed now. Not only it is in accordance with the people's right to information enshrined in the Constitution and the international covenants which the country has agreed to follow, it also shows how we value the people's rights in a democracy.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Latin gobbledygook

Need help with Latin expressions and words you often read and hear in the press? Click here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Free Burma!

Free Burma!

Free Burma!

Free Burma!

Free Burma!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The President's role in the ZTE scam

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had authorized negotiations to award the national broadband network (NBN) project to China’s ZTE Corporation months before the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) started its evaluation of the project, reports GMANews.TV.

Arroyo okayed talks with ZTE on NBN before NEDA review
Source: GMANews.TV
September 28

Through "special authority" documents she gave two Cabinet secretaries, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo authorized negotiations for the award of the national broadband network (NBN) project to China’s ZTE Corporation, months before the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) started its evaluation of the NBN project, according to official records submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

And four days before formal talks with ZTE could start, Mrs Arroyo brought the ZTE chairman to Cotabato City, as her special guest, at the joint Cabinet-regional Development Council meeting there on July 8, 2006.

She told local folk at the meeting that ZTE was investing US$1 billion in telecommunications and other projects in the Philippines.

Read here for more.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Revolutionizing journalism

The September 2007 issue of the PJR Reports, which focuses on the press situation during the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship, is already out.

While waiting for the issue's stories and sections online, you might want to take a look at the contents of our last month's issue.

Here's my story in the August issue of the magazine:

Where three -or more- is not a crowd
A New Way of Reporting the News

by Hector Bryant L. Macale

Faced by dwindling revenues and staff downsizing, should news organizations—the traditional gatekeepers of the news—be afraid of a world where blogs and citizen journalism have become increasingly important?

The future of journalism remains hotly debated among members of the press. Yet, news organizations may yet learn a thing or two from the new trends and techniques in which the news is being researched, reported, and presented.

“It’s a revolutionary moment in journalism. There is room for all kinds of experimentation now,” said journalist Sheila Coronel during her presentation on new trends in investigative reporting before a group of journalists last July 13. It was Coronel’s first visit to Manila since she assumed the post of inaugural director of The Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at the Columbia University in the United States last year.

The first and one of only three Hall of Famers of the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism, Coronel is a co-founder of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism where she served as executive director for 16 years.

“The business models that supported journalism for the longest time, especially print journalism—which are circu-lation and advertising that allowed newspapers to get revenues—are slowly crumbling and possibly collapsing,” Coronel said, adding, “Many newspapers are losing their circulation.”

Click here for more. For those who have read my earlier post about crowdsourcing and pro-am journalism, this is my story about the issue.

Other articles in the August issue include:

Main Story

Why Boy, Lolit and Cristy are here to stay
The Power of Showbiz News
by Junutte B. Galagala

Other Stories

Media companies find a bigger, richer market
The New News Target: OFWs
by Don Gil K. Carreon

A pro-active Supreme Court leads a conference on extrajudicial killings
A Summit on 'Salvagings' and Abductions
by Jose Bimbo F. Santos

A journalist compares working abroad with working at home
From Both Sides Now
by Patty Adversario

Click here for the regular sections in the issue, including the Monitor section which prominent journalist Jose Torres Jr. earlier wrote about in his blog.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Red Shirt for Burma Tomorrow

In support of the incredibly brave citizens of Burma: May all the people around the world wear a red shirt on Friday, September 28.

Aside from the usual news sources, you may click
here, here, here, and here for more.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On the Burma situation

Here's a recent press freedom alert on the current situation in Burma by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance:

Journalists, artistes warned from joining thousands of protesting citizens, monks in Burma
24 September 2007
Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

As thousands of ordinary citizens join some 3,000 monks and nuns in the streets of Rangoon and Mandalay on their seventh day of peaceful marches on 24 September 2007, the junta is warning the press from joining the protests, worried that journalists, too, may be emboldened enough by the deeply moving spectacle to exercise their right to free expression in its most basic form.

Major Tint Swe, the director of the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, summoned journalists and editors from Rangoon-based periodicals to his office on 23 September and warned them from participating in the anti-junta protests that are gaining momentum by the day, reports the global organisation of exiled journalists Burma Media Association (BMA).

BMA said the order appeared to be a hasty response to the urging of a new group calling itself the Association of Journalists and Artists, for members of both professions to join what is turning out to be the country's biggest protests in two decades.

Read more here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kundiman and old Philippine songs rock!

If you like or interested in knowing more about Kundiman and other Philippine classical songs, there are two blogs out there created by one passionate lover of these two almost-forgotten genres in Philippine music.

It's a pity that you can't find any program catering to these types of music in the local television anymore, or at least none that I know of. I am not sure if Armida Siguion Reyna's Aawitan Kita is still airing, but the last time I saw it was around two years ago or more, showing at a God-forsaken hour. When I was a child and much to my consternation then, I was forced to watch Aawitan Kita by my mother, who likes old Philippine songs. Back then, we only had one TV set and computers, I think at that time, had yet to be commercially released.

But thinking about it now, I am thankful that my mother had forced me to watch the program. It has encouraged me to later explore other genres of music, and not just being content with the usual mainstream hits that have become the regular staple of radio programs and even MTV or MYX.

Too bad there's no Aawitan Kita episode uploaded on Youtube (except a video showing Cris Villonco singing in the program and one karaoke song), for the sake of the younger generations who have never heard of any kundiman or Philippine classical song.

Please visit these links: Kundiman and Philippine Classical Music. The Kundiman blog also has several patriotic kundiman songs.

On Forced Democracy

Here's a insightful piece written by Shankar Vedantam of The Washington Post on US President George W. Bush's analogy between Philippine democracy and the Iraq situation.

Lessons in Forced Democracy
By Shankar Vedantam
September 17, 2007

Four years ago, during a speech in Manila, President Bush drew an analogy between the history of the Philippines and the history he was rewriting in Iraq.

"Democracy always has skeptics," Bush said. "Some say the culture of the Middle East will not sustain the institutions of democracy. The same doubts were proved wrong nearly six decades ago, when the Republic of the Philippines became the first democratic nation in Asia."

Since 2003, Bush has rarely mentioned the Philippines. But as the nation debates Gen. David H. Petraeus's recent report on the state of the Iraq war, a new study by political scientists Andrew Enterline and J. Michael Greig shows that the president ought to revisit his analogy.

Bush got some of his historical facts wrong, but his analogy turns out to be unintentionally accurate -- the Philippines is an excellent example of the risks, stakes and odds of imposing democracy on another country. By contrast, the oft-cited success stories of Japan and Germany turn out to be outliers.

Enterline and Greig's as yet unpublished study is a detailed examination of 41 cases over about 200 years where one nation has tried to impose democracy on another. As Washington debates the success of the recent U.S. "surge" in Iraq, the study offers a sobering glimpse of the big picture -- not the odds that the Iraqi insurgency will go up or down, but the odds that a stable democracy will emerge in the country.

Read here more.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hello, Garci timeline

Here's a "Hello, Garci" timeline from GMANEws.TV.

June 6, 2005

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye holds a press conference, plays two compact disc recordings, says that both contain the voice of the President but one was doctored.

June 8, 2005

Suspended lawyer Allan Paguia says he was the source of the recordings. Paguia intended his distribution to be on an installment basis to keep the Palace in the dark.

June 10, 2005

On June 10, whistleblower Samuel Ong, a former deputy director of the country's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) announced in a public press conference in Manila that he was the source of a set of audio tapes in circulation for the past week around the country. The master tape is allegedly of a wiretapped conversation between President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Virgilio Garcillano. Ong currently holds, as he claims, one out of four known master tapes that may incriminate Mrs Arroyo. He says that he did not tape Mrs Arroyo's conversation himself; the evidence was just entrusted to him by another source.

June 11, 2005

On June 11, Ong resided in the San Carlos Seminary in Guadalupe, Makati. Sympathizers in the area vowed to prevent his arrest and/or death. Later, the Office of the President formally denied the accusations to the public, although Mrs Arroyo's spokesman, Ignacio Bunye, had earlier acknowledged that it was Mrs Arroyo's voice in the Ong tape. Mass protests grew around the country, by the thousands.

June 12, 2005

On June 12, the country celebrated independence day. Philippine police tighten security around the seminary. Protesters who held vigil in the seminary, and in other areas, dwindled as people paid their respects to the day of independence. Protest activity overall was minimal, compared to the two previous days.

Ong tapes spread, through different forms of media like written transcripts which circulated.


June 13, 2005

On June 13, the official position of the government held on to the stand that the pieces of evidence are fake, and Mrs Arroyo did not commit electoral fraud. Copies of tapes, CDs, and written transcripts spread.

The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) challenged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) regarding warning of a possible forced closure of networks that air the contents of the tapes that involve the conversations of President Arroyo.

June 14, 2005

On June 14, The KBP attacked the NTC by calling their warning as "an attack on press freedom." The spread of tapes, CDs, written transcripts are accompanied by the spread of computer files (.doc, and .mp3) versions of the Ong recordings over the Internet. Authorities later released their own government endorsed copies over the Internet, and called the Ong recordings, already widespread, as "manipulated". Ong sympathizers countered by calling the act a last ditch attempt by the government to save itself. Sympathizers said that since the government can't control the spread of the Ong recordings, authorities just tried to confuse the electorate with their own fake recordings.

Foreign experts reportedly confirmed that the Ong recordings do indeed have the voices of Mrs Arroyo and Garcillano. This was confirmed by New Jersey based Voice Identification Inc. Mrs Arroyo has yet to respond. With the tape itself authenticated, and the voices therein confirmed, Ong sympathizers began a fresh wave of protests calling for the legal ouster of politicians. They called for the Supreme Court to declare the 2004 elections null and void. They also supported the creation of interim government, new elections, all to be followed by a new legitimate government. Mrs Arroyo stood by her claim of innocence.

June 17, 2005

On June 17, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the Arroyo administration for attempting to restrict the airing of the Ong recordings. Christopher Warren, IFJ president said that, "Threatening journalists and media organizations is an unacceptable practice in a democracy; the [Arroyo] administration needs to be more transparent in its dealings with election officials."

Authorities instead allowed the country's media to play a government endorsed recording which they claim to be the original. The government tapes portray a conversation of Mrs Arroyo and a man named Gary, rather than Garci (nickname of Garcillano). The Ong recordings though have already been verified (both tape and content) by two neutral parties. Also, the courts have not yet had a say on the matter.

June 18, 2005

On June 18, the KBP announced that the Ong recordings may now be aired to the general public, until it is proven to be an illegal wiretap by the Arroyo administration. Both the Ong recordings and the government endorsed recordings were broadcast on mass media channels.

June 19, 2005

On June 19, Virgilio Garcillano was reportedly seen in Zamboanga City, preparing to go abroad. Copies of both recordings spread further everywhere through almost every possible means of mass media. A significant number of the country's electorate was already able to access the recordings. Names of many other election candidates and other politicians are reportedly mentioned in the recordings.

Procedures that are already in place could help end the issue of electoral fraud allegations on Mrs Arroyo, Garcillano and any other related party. Everyday life for most citizens moved back to normal, though the crisis is still ongoing. Members of Congress reportedly were interested in starting hearings about the crisis.

June 27, 2005

On June 27, a day before the burial of the former Archbishop of Manila Jaime Cardinal Sin, President Arroyo addressed the country with a television broadcast. She admitted that it was indeed her voice on the tape. She explained that she was just asking for a count in Mindanao, the southern island. Her admission was followed by an apology addressed to the people stating that she made a "lapse in judgment" in communicating with an electoral commission official during the election. Lawyer Oliver Lozano filed an impeachment case against Mrs Arroyo on the grounds of her alleged betrayal of public trust. Representative Prospero Pichay was confident that no congressman would endorse the impeachment case, however a party list representative had indeed endorsed it. The largest opposition group did not support impeachment because they believed that it was part of the political maneuvering of the administration. Former president and opposition leader Estrada said that Mrs Arroyo could not be impeached because impeachment is made on a legitimate president which, according to him, she was "not."

Click here for the full timeline.
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